A bulletin board pinboard , pin board , noticeboard , or notice board in British English is a surface intended for the posting of public messages, for example, to advertise items wanted or for sale, announce events, or provide information.
The latter initially appeared, unsurprisingly, on the Amiga and Macintosh platform, where TeleFinder and FirstClass became very popular. FirstClass offered a host of features that would be difficult or impossible under a terminal-based solution, including bi-directional information flow and non-blocking operation that allowed the user to exchange files in both directions while continuing to use the message system and chat, all in separate windows.
Skypix featured on Amiga a complete markup language. It used a standardized set of icons to indicate mouse driven commands available online and to recognize different filetypes present on BBS storage media.
It was capable to transmit data like images, audio files, and audio clips between users linked to same BBS or off-line if BBS was in the circuit of FidoNet organization. On the PC, efforts were more oriented to extensions of the original terminal concept, with the GUI being described in the information on the host. One example was the Remote Imaging Protocol , essentially a picture description system, which remained relatively obscure.
Another delay followed due to a long V. These increasing speeds had the side effect of dramatically reducing the noticeable effects of channel efficiency. When modems were slow, considerable effort was put into developing the most efficient protocols and display systems possible.
Dial-up Internet service became widely available in , and a must-have option for any general-use operating system by These developments together resulted in the sudden obsolescence of bulletin board technology in and the collapse of its supporting market. Technically, Internet service offered an enormous advantage over BBS systems, as a single connection to the user's Internet service provider allowed them to contact services around the world.
In comparison, BBS systems relied on a direct point-to-point connection, so even dialing multiple local systems required multiple phone calls. Moreover, Internet protocols allowed that same single connection to be used to contact multiple services at the same time, say download files from an FTP library while checking the weather on a local news web site.
In comparison, a connection to a BBS allowed access only to the information on that system. BBSes rapidly declined in popularity thereafter, and were replaced by systems using the Internet for connectivity. The historical BBS list on textfiles. The owner of textfiles. As of an estimated to are still active, mostly for nostalgia.
Unlike modern websites and online services that are typically hosted by third-party companies in commercial data centers , BBS computers especially for smaller boards were typically operated from the SysOp's home.
As such, access could be unreliable, and in many cases, only one user could be on the system at a time. Only larger BBSes with multiple phone lines using specialized hardware, multitasking software, or a LAN connecting multiple computers, could host multiple simultaneous users.
There were several dozen other BBS programs developed over the DOS era, and many were released under the shareware concept, while some were released as freeware including iniquity. BBS systems on other systems remained popular, especially home computers , largely because they catered to the audience of users running those machines. The ubiquitous Commodore 64 introduced in was a common platform in the s.
The earlier machines generally lacked hard drive capabilities, which limited them primarily to messaging. In the late s, a handful of BBS developers implemented multitasking communications routines inside their software, allowing multiple phone lines and users to connect to the same BBS computer.
One of the first graphics based BBS applications was Excalibur BBS with a low bandwidth applications that required its own client for efficiency. This led to one of the earliest implementations of Electronic Commerce in with replication of partner stores around the globe. However, some home computer manufacturers extended the ASCII character set to take advantage of the advanced color and graphics capabilities of their systems. BBS software authors included these extended character sets in their software, and terminal program authors included the ability to display them when a compatible system was called.
The use of these custom character sets was generally incompatible between manufacturers. Unless a caller was using terminal emulation software written for, and running on, the same type of system as the BBS, the session would simply fall back to simple ASCII output. As time progressed, most terminal programs began using the ANSI standard, but could use their native character set if it was available. A competing approach called Remote Imaging Protocol RIP emerged and was promoted by Telegrafix in the early to mids but it never became widespread.
An industry standard technology called NAPLPS was also considered, and although it became the underlying graphics technology behind the Prodigy service , it never gained popularity in the BBS market. Other systems used the Viewdata protocols made popular in the UK by British Telecom 's Prestel service, and the on-line magazine Micronet whom were busy giving away modems with their subscriptions. The Amiga Skyline BBS software was the first in featuring a script markup language communication protocol called Skypix which was capable of giving the user a complete graphical interface, featuring rich graphic content, changeable fonts, mouse-controlled actions, animations and sound.
Modern bit terminal emulators such as mTelnet and SyncTerm include native telnet support. Since most early BBSes were run by computer hobbyists, they were typically technical in topic, with user communities revolving around hardware and software discussions. As the BBS phenomenon grew, so did the popularity of special interest boards. Bulletin Board Systems could be found for almost every hobby and interest. Popular interests included politics, religion, music, dating , and alternative lifestyles.
Many SysOps also adopted a theme in which they customized their entire BBS welcome screens, prompts, menus, and so on to reflect that theme. Common themes were based on fantasy , or were intended to give the user the illusion of being somewhere else, such as in a sanatorium , wizard's castle, or on a pirate ship. In the early days, the file download library consisted of files that the SysOps obtained themselves from other BBSes and friends.
Many BBSes inspected every file uploaded to their public file download library to ensure that the material did not violate copyright law. Small BBSes copied each file individually to their hard drive. Large systems used all 26 DOS drive letters with multi-disk changers housing tens of thousands of copyright-free shareware or freeware files available to all callers.
Access to these systems varied from single to multiple modem lines with some requiring little or no confirmed registration. Some BBSes, called elite, WaReZ or pirate boards, were exclusively used for distributing cracked software , phreaking , and other questionable or unlawful content. These BBSes often had multiple modems and phone lines, allowing several users to upload and download files at once. Most elite BBSes used some form of new user verification, where new users would have to apply for membership and attempt to prove that they were not a law enforcement officer or a lamer.
The largest elite boards accepted users by invitation only. Elite boards also spawned their own subculture and gave rise to the slang known today as leetspeak. Another common type of board was the support BBS run by a manufacturer of computer products or software. These boards were dedicated to supporting users of the company's products with question and answer forums, news and updates, and downloads.
Most of them were not a free call. Today, these services have moved to the web. Some general purpose Bulletin Board Systems had special levels of access that were given to those who paid extra money, uploaded useful files or knew the SysOp personally.
These specialty and pay BBSes usually had something unique to offer their users, such as large file libraries, warez , pornography , chat rooms or Internet access.
However, many free BBSes also maintained close knit communities, and some even had annual or bi-annual events where users would travel great distances to meet face-to-face with their on-line friends.
These events were especially popular with BBSes that offered chat rooms. Some of the BBSes that provided access to illegal content faced opposition. Most early BBSes operated as individual systems. Information contained on that BBS never left the system, and users would only interact with the information and user community on that BBS alone.
However, as BBSes became more widespread, there evolved a desire to connect systems together to share messages and files with distant systems and users. The largest such network was FidoNet. As is it was prohibitively expensive for the hobbyist SysOp to have a dedicated connection to another system, FidoNet was developed as a store and forward network. Private email Netmail , public message boards Echomail and eventually even file attachments on a FidoNet-capable BBS would be bundled into one or more archive files over a set time interval.
These archive files were then compressed with ARC or ZIP and forwarded to or polled by another nearby node or hub via a dialup Xmodem session. Messages would be relayed around various FidoNet hubs until they were eventually delivered to their destination. Some larger BBSes or regional FidoNet hubs would make several transfers per day, some even to multiple nodes or hubs, and as such, transfers usually occurred at night or early morning when toll rates were lowest.
In Fido's heyday, sending a Netmail message to a user on a distant FidoNet node, or participating in an Echomail discussion could take days, especially if any FidoNet nodes or hubs in the message's route only made one transfer call per day.
FidoNet was platform-independent and would work with any BBS that was written to use it. The front-end mailer would conduct the periodic FidoNet transfers, while the mail processor would usually run just before and just after the mailer ran. This program would scan for and pack up new outgoing messages, and then unpack, sort and "toss" the incoming messages into a BBS user's local email box or into the BBS's local message bases reserved for Echomail.
Many other BBS networks followed the example of FidoNet, using the same standards and the same software. They were usually smaller and targeted at selected audiences. Before commercial Internet access became common, these networks of BBSes provided regional and international e-mail and message bases. Elaborate schemes allowed users to download binary files, search gopherspace , and interact with distant programs , all using plain text e-mail. As the volume of FidoNet Mail increased and newsgroups from the early days of the Internet became available, satellite data downstream services became viable for larger systems.
The satellite service provided access to FidoNet and Usenet newsgroups in large volumes at a reasonable fee. The local BBS only needed to upload new outgoing messages via the modem network back to the satellite service.
This method drastically reduced phone data transfers while dramatically increasing the number of message forums. FidoNet is still in use today, though in a much smaller form, and many Echomail groups are still shared with Usenet via FidoNet to Usenet gateways.
Widespread abuse of Usenet with spam and pornography has led to many of these FidoNet gateways to cease operation completely. Bulletin boards are often made of a material such as cork to facilitate addition and removal of messages, as well as a writing surface such as blackboard or whiteboard. A bulletin board which combines a pinboard corkboard and writing surface is known as a combination bulletin board.
Bulletin boards can also be entirely in the digital domain and placed on computer networks so people can leave and erase messages for other people to read and see, as in a bulletin board system.
Bulletin boards are particularly prevalent at universities. They are used by many sports groups and extracurricular groups and anything from local shops to official notices. Dormitory corridors, well-trafficked hallways, lobbies, and freestanding kiosks often have cork boards attached to facilitate the posting of notices.
At some universities, lampposts, bollards, trees, and walls often become impromptu posting sites in areas where official boards are sparse in number. Internet forums are a replacement for traditional bulletin boards.
Online bulletin boards are sometimes referred to as message boards. The terms bulletin board, message board and even Internet forum are interchangeable, although often one bulletin board or message board can contain a number of Internet forums or discussion groups. An online board can serve the same purpose as a physical bulletin board. Magnet boards, or magnetic bulletin boards, are a popular substitute for cork boards because they lack the problem of board deterioration from the insertion and removal of pins over time.
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